• Written by Charlotte Soedjak
    16 December 2013

I cannot imagine Akvo without Skype. The virtual distances that Akvonauts travel every day are huge. I am based in Amsterdam, and if I talk to my colleagues Lynn in Stockholm, to Aulia in Surabaya, and to Phylis in Nairobi, that’s nearly 20,000 virtual kilometers, one-way only.

Our team is growing, particularly in regional hubs, and is therefore increasingly internationally spread-out. That’s also why I can’t imagine Akvo as a small start-up, based in one office, which it was when Akvo registered as a foundation a bit over five years ago.

Our current team counts over forty staff, but only fifteen of us are based at the Amsterdam head office. This means that many of us don’t often talk face to face. And that’s why we organise a team week a couple of times a year. This week provides an opportunity to not only update each other on activities and developments, but also to spend time together and to have fun.

The first week of December we held Edition 13 of the Akvo Team Week, at our Amsterdam office. In a nutshell, what we’ve done:

  • Akvo strategy presentation, by Peter and Thomas.
  • The four hub managers provided an overview of last years’ activities and those to come in 2014, for the Akvo hubs in Asia, East and West Africa, and the USA.
  • Product presentations for RSR, FLOW, OpenAid, Akvopedia and DASH – including next years’ roadmaps, by the product managers.
  • Communication team update, covering topics such as the Akvo.org site, help and support, newsletter, and hub design. 
  • An introduction to the new Akvo security policy, by Patrick and Stefan.
  • Akvo FLOW trainers Joy, Isha, Francis and Andrew shared their experiences of FLOW trainings in the field.
  • Several team-building activities were facilitated by Emma Nilsson.

What I liked most of this week was that everyone in the team, in one way or another, contributed to making it happen. By sharing experiences in presentations, preparing lunch, but also in the form of other entertainment. The Stockholm team facilitated a very fun pizza and games night, Laura and Stefan organised a fantastic pub quiz, and we even had the Akvo band playing some tunes during the Akvo 5 year anniversary party on 5 December! And of course we couldn’t keep our overseas colleagues from a true Dutch experience during a visit to the typical Dutch village of Volendam.


For a visual impression of the week you can view my Flickr set, and check #AkvoTW13 on Twitter.

Charlotte Soedjak is a project officer at Akvo based in Amsterdam.